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Friday, October 11, 2013

CA Governor Signs Autism Legislation

Gov. Jerry Brown has approved a 2 1/2-year extension of a program that requires insurance coverage for early autism treatment.

Since its creation in 2011, the program has helped more than 12,500 Californians, according to Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the author of the bills creating and extending the program.
The California Autism Insurance Mandate requires private healthcare insurance plans to provide coverage for “behavioral health treatment” of children with autism and pervasive developmental disorders.
It was set to expire in July 2014, but, after the governor signed SB 126, will now operate until Jan. 1, 2017.
Autism Speaks reports that Brown signed four bills and vetoed two others that were part of a package recommended by the Autism Diversity Task Force that Steinberg created in 2012.
  • SB.208, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, will require Regional Centers to evaluate the ability of outside vendors to provide culturally and linguistically competent services before awarding contracts.
  • SB.367 sponsored by Sen. Marty Block, will require Regional Centers to develop annual strategic plans addressing issues of linguistic and cultural competency.
  • SB. 555, sponsored by Lou Correa, lays out guidelines for Regional Centers in providing Individual Program Plans (IPPs) in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.
  • AB.1232, sponsored by Assemblyman Manuel Perez, requires the state Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to account for diversity and equity when assessing the quality of services provided by Regional Centers.
Brown vetoed AB.1231, also sponsored by Perez, that would have made clear that DDS is required to facilitate the use of telehealth and teledentistry services in the Regional Center system. Brown had vetoed an earlier version of the bill, prompting Perez to reintroduce the legislation because he said providers perceived reluctance on the part of Regional Centers to include telehealth services without explicit authorization from DDS.
Brown again insisted everything required under the bill was already being done or could be done under existing law.
Brown also vetoed SB.158, sponsored by Correa, which would have established an autism demonstration program to improve linguistic and cultural competency in Regional Centers. In his veto message, Brown said the bill provided no funding source for the demonstration program.